A little (mis)adventure to Powell Butte, 14 Sept 2019

This past weekend featured an #unmeeting just about 40 miles west of Portland. Here is where supple-tire enthusiasts ride a country (or logging) road in a “spirited” style. I’ve been hearing that adverb/adjective a bit more recently. Spirited. I’m sure those who use it are trying to say it’s faster than “just cruising along”. But it’s usually said by folks who do their best to deny they’re a roadie despite wearing jerseys and bike shorts much of the time they’re on a bike. “Spirited” to me sounds like “just one mph slower than a training ride”.

I’m not saying spirited riding is bad. It’s just not my thing. And maybe it’s a term trying to be a wee bit deceptive. I’m not interested in spirited riding, at least right now. I don’t want to feel bad for holding others back, or feel bad for getting dropped because my pace is so slow. Given the option, I’ll just do my own thing. Putz around. Stop a lot. What’s wrong with just cruising along? Maybe there’s a place for unspirited riding.

And an unspirited ride is what I ended up doing on Saturday September 14th. I pulled out the Bantam, a bike I haven’t used much lately. (More on that another post.) I pointed it eastward towards Powell Butte, a place I say I should go to more, but don’t. It was shaping up to be a nice September day, partly sunny and a high of 77F/25C. Not too many days like this left for 2019, and the second half of the month is promising to be wetter.

I winded through the neighborhoods and began my ascent of the butte as I generally always do–Old Holgate Trail. While rough in spots, it mostly sticks to a 6% grade. Atop the butte I was greeted with golden fields and unfortunately, no view of Mount Hood as there was a bunch of clouds in the east. Oh well.

I ended up hanging out at the mountain finder on the top for awhile. I brought a coffee outside kit of my Esbit moka pot. I haven’t done a coffee outside adventure in awhile. I don’t think I’ve been to our local weekly Coffee Outside meetup in a year. The problem is it’s so dang early on a Friday morning (7 AM) and I don’t work Fridays. Do I want to get up at 6 to ride five miles and have coffee? Not often. But I should at some point–or create my own regular Coffee Outside nearer to me!

I descended the Butte via the SW corner, my fave descent. People do mountain bike on Powell Butte, but it’s not considered prime MTB’ing, especially if you want something more technical. For me and my unspirited approach, it’s about as much mountain biking as I want. Heading down the Elderberry to Cedar Grove Trail meant being in deep forest for a mile or so, not Old Growth, but a nice mature Second Growth that is always peaceful and lush. I paused briefly at the unnamed creek. One of these days, I tell myself, I’m going to filter water from it just to say I drank water from a stream within the city. (As far as I know, there shouldn’t be any inorganic contaminants in the water.)

Soon, the Butte adventure was over, and I headed west on the Springwater Corridor bike path for a mile until tragedy struck:

My chain snapped.

I was wondering what was up with the bike. It’s felt a bit sluggish lately. I chalked it up to me being out of shape, and that’s definitely true. But the shifting has been really clunky lately. Now I know why: The chain was on its last legs, or links. Ah well. And no, after all the drama about chains from The Big Tour, I didn’t have a chain tool with me. But when’s the last time I had a chain break? Uh, never, as far as I can remember. (Then again, I’ve only been riding a ten-speed chain over the last couple years. These chains don’t seem to be as robust as the other chains I’ve had.) In any case I had the appropriate tool: My Hop Card, which is my electronic transit pass. Since I was still in the city, it was just a one minute walk to the bus stop.

Now I need a new chain…

9 thoughts on “A little (mis)adventure to Powell Butte, 14 Sept 2019

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  1. A year or two ago I went on an overnight trip to a primitive campsite in the Catskills–I rode the train up from NYC to Poughkeepsie and then it was about a 60 mile ride. There is no cell service where I was camping, and it’s probably 10-15 miles to any real town with services. I had a great trip, caught the train back home the next day, got off the train at Grand Central, and within the first block of the ride home from Grand Central, my chain broke. All I could think about was how screwed I’d have been if it had happened while I was up in the mountains. Since then I always carry a chain tool and spare quick links.

    1. I think it’s something you don’t really think about…until it happens, then you become vigilant. The irony is, originally I was supposed to go on a bike camping trip this past weekend, but it got cancelled due to weather. (Saturday was beautiful, Saturday overnight into Sunday we got 3/4 inch of rain.) I thought about how much it would suck if the chain broke on the way back, in the pouring rain, with no bus service, and no way to repair. Guess I’d stick out my thumb…

  2. that looks like a beautiful ride and one that should be done at a un-spirited pace! Once upon a time I worshiped at the altar of speed but when every ride became a work out it quickly sucked the joy out of cycling so I slowed done, got a steel bike with tires larger than 25c and haven’t looked back. Hats off to those who can hammer that just isn’t my jam and I notice so much more at a meandering pace. Sorry about your chain but a bus pass is all the tool you need if you are doing city riding. Come to think of it my last busted chain was a 9 speed, I have been using 8 speed chains for the last decade – no issues.

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